Eastleigh 1-1 Southampton


Pre-Season Friendly
Report by Jamie Montigue

As Southampton Football Club’s future remains in the balance with takeover talks hopefully coming to a welcome conclusion early next week, Mark Wotte brought a 22-man squad to the Silverlake Stadium to face former Saint, Ian Baird’s Eastleigh.

It has been a torrid few months for the St. Mary’s club since relegation from the Championship. Going into administration brought further bad news, that of a ten point deduction heading into League One this coming season. Takeover talks have been a frustrating experience for the fans with no deal yet being agreed, however it is thought a deal could be wrapped up imminently.

Here at Eastleigh, the club as a whole were thrilled the friendly went ahead, a pre-season fixture that has been a regular event/tradition in years past, and would like to wish the Saints all the very best as they look to rebuild and get back to happier days.

On the pitch, today’s game in the sunshine was the first warm up game ahead of the coming campaign for both sides. Southampton were able to concentrate on playing their football and show the fans just how much the club means to them, put the troubled times behind them and look forward to a brighter future at the club.

The hosts, who enjoyed their most successful season in the Blue Square South with a third place league finish and narrowly missing out on promotion to the Conference Premier in the 2008/9 season, had a number of new signings on display as well as a handful of trialists.

Amongst the summer recruits on show for Eastleigh were two familiar faces, Danny Smith and Ian Oliver who re-joined the club from Bognor Regis and Farnborough respectively, whilst Brett Poate (former Southampton academy and Havant & Waterlooville left-sided player) and ex-Bashley goal-getter Richard Gillespie started the game this afternoon as well.

Sporting a new away kit sponsored by HP Contracts of yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks, Eastleigh opened the game well and looked more than capable of holding their own as they exerted the early pressure.

Southampton’s Matthew Paterson had the first shot of the game after a through ball from Lloyd James down the right channel, but the young striker’s attempt was comfortably wide of goal.

In the sixth minute, Poate did extremely well to put a cross in from an acute angle to find Gillespie at the back post who couldn’t quite keep his header down as Bartosz Bialkowski safely gathered in mid-air.

Further impressive approach play from the Spitfires just two minutes later saw the incredibly lively and creative Tony Taggart float a delightful cross to the far side as he cut in from the right wing. Poate arrived late in the penalty area to meet the delivery and was unlucky to see his header just wide of goal.

Eastleigh came close yet again as Oscar Gobern conceded a foul on Taggart by the nearside corner flag, from which a free kick was rewarded. Poate was looking increasingly dangerous from set pieces and this one was met by trialist Marcus Richardson who was just an inch away from opening the scoring with a powerful header.

Gobern only half-cleared another lethal Poate delivery, this time from the left hand side, Taggart latched on to the loose ball from 30-yards-out and picked it up sweetly on the volley. Eastleigh’s top goalscorer from last season watched as his drilled effort saw Bialkowski struggling to get across to it as the ball whistled an inch wide of the post.

The Eastleigh attacks kept coming and it looked as though they had broken the deadlock with 13 minutes on the clock. The centre backs moved forward for a corner to join the attack and their excellent movement allowed Richardson to get to the ball ahead of the keeper and head home from close range, though referee Pete Lavelle spotted an infringement to rule the ‘goal’ out.

On the counter attack Jake Thomson forced a corner off Ian Oliver. Lee Holmes delivery was met by Gobern who struggled to keep his header down.

Taggart’s invention and trickery for Eastleigh was pleasing to the eye for the hosts, meanwhile combative Southampton midfielder Simon Gillett was breaking up the play and pulling the strings in the midfield for the visitors.

In the 19th minute, Gillett looked to find Paterson with a reverse pass, cleverly disguising the through ball in behind the Eastleigh back line with the outside of his right boot and was very unfortunate that his team mate wasn’t quite on the same wavelength and didn’t read into the invention.

Poate came close four minutes later from a free kick around 25 yards from goal. It was in the left footer’s territory and the ex-Hawk struck it sweetly with the curling attempt that dipped so close to finding the top right hand corner of goal with the keeper beaten.

Midway through the half the physical presence of Eastleigh trialist Marcus Richardson shone through once more, as the sheer size and strength of the forward posed Southampton a number of problems throughout the afternoon. The former Farnborough man powered his way up the field, running half the length of the pitch before feeding the ball back to Taggart. Adeniyi took over from here and slipped in a neat pass for Poate who challenged for the 50:50 ball with Bialkowski but neither could get anything on it as Eastleigh’s excellent move came to an end.

Aaron Martin nodded over the bar from a Poate cross in the 38th minute, before the Spitfires were denied by the woodwork just a minute before the break.

Poate let fly with a stunning drive from distance which looked to be heading for the top corner only to be met by an equally fine save. Bialkowski diving to his right, somehow managed to palm the ball on to the frame of his goal and out for a corner kick as the first half came to a close with the score goalless but Eastleigh looking the more likely to make something happen.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 0-0 Southampton

Mark Wotte and Michael Svensson fielded virtually an entire different side in the second half with the exception of striker Matt Paterson who continued to lead the line.

This second eleven was pretty much the Southampton reserves/academy side with many of those who came on at the break under the age of 18.

Eastleigh made three changes with Warren Goodhind, Bournemouth trialist winger Carl Preston, and Trevor Challis all coming on in place of Ian Oliver, Brett Poate, Steve Clark who made way.

Immediately you could sense that the fresh legs of the Saints youngsters breathed fresh life into the visitors attempt to take control of the game.

Tom Dunford raced through two minutes into the half but Matthews spread himself to narrow the angle at the edge of his box and smother the ball at the winger’s feet.

Dunford then played the ball into Paterson who spun well and hit a decent shot on the turn from the edge of the box that flew wide of the mark.

Five minutes shy of the hour, Richard Gillespie was kept out by Tommy Forecast with a left foot snapshot from close range. The effort was initially blocked by the keeper but spun backwards towards goal and had to be clawed away to prevent Eastleigh taking the lead.

That accolade went to the visitors when Callum McNish’s perfectly weighted pass to the left of goal picked out the run of MATT PATERSON to perfection who showed great composure to slip the ball past Jason Matthews and into the net in the 60th minute.

Two minutes later there were shouts for handball against Aaron Martin as the goalscorer Paterson slammed a shot into the body of the Eastleigh centre back, though the referee was uninterested in the claims and play continued.

Adam Roberts made a welcome return to the club, presumably as a trialist looking to earn a contract with Eastleigh during pre-season, following a spell at VTFC as he entered the fray for the impressive Richardson in the 64th minute.

Were it not for a top-drawer double save from Forecast, Eastleigh would have been back in the game less than ten minutes after conceding. A mazy run from Taggart saw the winger cut inside and pull the trigger with his left foot, Forecast got down well to block the powerful strike but Gillespie was quickest to react as he pounced on the rebound and got a shot away. Showing the reactions of a cat, Forecast was back up and in position to rebuff the Eastleigh forward by getting a good solid hand to the ball to deny an otherwise certain goal and keep his side in front.

Jason Sangha, who has been with the Eastleigh reserves and Under 18’s in previous years has returned from a season long loan at Yeovil and came on in the 71st minute along with another trialist, left-sided centre half Michael Green previously of Christchurch, to replace the central defensive partnership of Martin and Jordan.

At the same point, Saints made a change with Jamie White replacing Matt Paterson.

Eastleigh continued their search of an equaliser with Richard Gillespie creating a chance out of nothing with a fine piece of individual brilliance. Turning Oliver Lancashire with sheer athleticism, the player dubbed as ‘Mr Goals’ for his record at Bashley, sprinted down the right flank and let fly with the shot that needed just that little bit of luck to beat the keeper.

Chris Mason and trialist Kwasi Frempong were the final Eastleigh substitutions as Gillespie and Danny Smith made way.

With nine minutes remaining, a long ball forward from the back saw Jason Matthews come a long way out of goal only to be pipped to the ball by White who got there first beating the Eastleigh keeper for pace and lofting the ball over his header first time but dragging the shot wide of the mark.

The last of the action saw Eastleigh draw level with a minute remaining with TONY TAGGART testing the keeper with a left foot pile driver from 20 yards that proved too hot to handle as Forecast let the ball slip through his grasp and the ball trickle through over the line and into the bottom corner of goal.

FULL TIME – Eastleigh 1-1 Southampton

Match pictures by Jozef Montigue

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